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Cincinnati Bengals: What Went Right and What Went Wrong in Week 1
With week one of the NFL wrapping up, there were a handful of surprises (Jets, anyone?), a couple of almost upsets and a lot of great football action. The Cincinnati Bengals traveled to Chicago for their opener, and fell to the Chicago Bears 24-21. After playing physical, possession-keeping football in the first half, ultimately it was mistakes that cost Cincinnati a chance at victory. This writer predicted a 27-17 Bengals victory. I guess you can’t get them all right. After every Bengals game this year, win or loss, I am going to write a “What went right and what went wrong” column, where I will highlight both sides of the contest.
What Went Right
The Passing Game
There were questions coming into the season about the Bengals offense, especially third-year quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton did have two interceptions, the second of which hit off the hands of A.J. Green. However, Dalton and Green were clicking, especially in the first half, as Green ended up with nine catches for 162 yards and two TDs. Dalton finished his day with 282 yards, two TDs and two INTs. On top of the Dalton-Green duo, Tyler Eifert (five receptions, 47 yards) and Jermaine Gresham (five receptions, 35 yards) had productive days. They each caught every ball thrown their way, and it has to give promise to fans hoping the Bengals and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden utilize twin-TE sets more often.
The Offensive Line
The Bengals O-line was very good protecting Dalton, only giving up one sack. Tackle Anthony Collins, playing for injured All-Pro Andrew Whitworth, kept one of the league’s highest profile players in Julius Peppers in check. He did so well that Peppers failed to even register a tackle.
What Went Wrong
Dalton’s first interception set up Chicago with great field position, and Bears QB Jay Cutler made the Bengals pay, tossing a TD to his tight end. Then in the fourth quarter, wide out Mohamed Sanu fumbled in the red zone, which would eventually turn out to be the game winning TD drive for the Bears. Credit must be given to Chicago, who made good use of Cincinnati turnovers.
Cincinnati has had its fair share of problems in the past with managing the clock, as that has long been a knock on head coach Marvin Lewis. Boy did it rear its ugly head in the second half Sunday. In a span of two plays, the Bengals had 12 men on one snap, and after taking a timeout, lined up with 10 the next play, burning another timeout. With just over eight minutes left in the game, Cincinnati was completely out of timeouts.
Emotions surely got the best of the Bengals on Sunday. Two costly personal fouls will be most scrutinized this week in the locker room. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick had a personal foul penalty, setting up Chicago for a half-ending 58-yard field goal. Then, with no timeouts and a possible chance to get the ball back late in the game, Rey Maualuga received a roughing penalty on rookie tackle Jordan Mills, effectively ending the Bengals chances.
The Defensive Line
Where was the defensive line, which was touted preseason as one of the premier d-lines in the game? Front man Geno Atkins, fresh off a contract extension, failed to get any pressure, as he led a disheartening effort from the defensive line. The Bengals did not sack Jay Cutler one time Sunday, and as was written previewing the game, if they failed to get pressure this writer could see Chicago winning. Chicago’s untested offensive line played very well Sunday, and the Bengals will most certainly need to fix that moving forward against the Steelers.
Next week, The Bengals have their home opener in what will be a hostile game against the Steelers on Monday Night Football. Both teams will be looking for their first victory of the season.
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